November 30, 2003
Burmese curry

Well - I had a go at cooking a Burmese style chicken curry.

Thanks to Lisa at Burnt Toast for pointing this particular combination out (she having just come back from an adventure holiday in Burma recently.)

I have to admit that cooking this dish was very much an Indian/Chinese “fusion” experience: it’s effectively a Punjabi-style chicken dish - but without tomatoes or peppers - and instead: coconut milk and besan (gram flour) with a dash of Thai fish sauce at the finish.

Here is a Route79-style illustrated guide to cooking this exquisite dish:

First prepare all the ingredients:

  • 8 medium-size chicken thighs - no bone - no skin - chopped into bite-size chunks.
  • 2 medium onions - sliced relatively finely.
  • 400ml of chicken broth. I made this from a Marks and Spencer concentrate jar - although you could just use Oxo or “bouillon” chicken cubes.
  • 100ml of coconut milk - I made this from “Rajah creamed coconut” bar - chopping off a chunk and dissolving it in warm water.
  • 3 tablespoons of gram flour (which is ground chick-pea flour - otherwise called “besan”).
  • 1 chunk of pre-pulped garlic. (See a previous recipe where I explain what these pre-pulped garlic and ginger pieces are.)
  • 1 chunk of pre-pulped ginger.
  • 1 cinnamon stick (otherwise known as dal-chini) slit into two pieces.
  • 2 bay leaves. (Did you know that bay leaf is the leaf of the “laurel” tree? The leaves of this tree were considered holy in the days of the Roman Empire - and were used to “crown” honoured people - hence the laurel wreath and hence the term “resting on your laurels”.)
  • Spices: Ground coriander, garam masala, chillie, salt, turmeric.
  • A bottle of Thai fish sauce - just a few drops needed for this dish.

Fry the onions in some vegetable oil for a few minutes - until they are translucentish. Then add the spices - a teapoon of turmeric, a teaspoon of chillie powder, a teaspoon of salt, 2 teaspoons of coriander and 2 teaspoons of garam masala. Stir well.

Once the onions/spice mixture has been stirred well - add the chopped chicken thigh pieces - and stir fry on high heat:

Thoroughly coat the chicken in the onion/spice mixture - until the chicken has gone “rubbery”. Then add the pre-prepared chicken broth, as well as the bay leaves and cinnamon stick pieces:

Simmer the pot for around 20 minutes. Whilst that is simmering - add about half-glass of warm water to the gram flour powder and stir until all lumps are out. Sieve through a tea-strainer to make sure you remove all lumps of clumped gram flour - and then pour into chicken pot. Stir and then pour in the coconut milk. Stir thoroughly - at this point the pot should be thickening a bit. Keep stirring until you get to a consistent simmer. Leave it simmering with lid off for another 30 mins.

After the 30 mins of simmering - add a few drops of Thai fish sauce from the bottle and stir thoroughly:

Taste to ensure that there’s enough salt - and add some if needed. Stir thoroughly.

Turn off the heat - and it’s done! Serve on a bed of freshly-cooked rice noodles - or else (as in my case) on a bed of freshly-cooked Basmati rice.


I really enjoyed cooking that - the coconut milk, gram flour and fish sauce add a completely different dimension to the sort of North Indian cooking that I’m used to - but I certainly will be cooking something like this again!

Posted by jag at November 30, 2003 10:15 PM

That looks so nice.

I’m having friends over for dinner on Wednesday and I’ve been trying to think of something to cook for them. This looks ideal!

Posted by: James on December 1, 2003 12:08 AM

Hi James - thanks - yes it tasted good too.
Well - if you do try it out for dinner with your guests - let us know how it goes! (I forgot to say that you should also serve up with a bowl of salad and some Indian pickles/condiments.)

Posted by: Jag on December 1, 2003 09:24 AM

And you do seem to be very good with Photoshop too…
You or Ms. 79 must be a great chef. Way to go.
Little opportunity of me trying it or even eating it.

Posted by: sat on December 1, 2003 10:24 AM

Ooh, yum - that looks delicious! I’m going to have to get the proper ingredients and do it again!

Most of the food there did seem to be halfway between what I know to be Indian and what I know to be Chinese, although most sort of edged towards Chinese. There were quite a few Thai dishes, but they were always keen to describe them as Thai when they were served.

Posted by: Lisa on December 1, 2003 12:55 PM

How come you are not posting any of those songs lyrics that you used to do before. I miss those.

While you are here, check out - an amazing flash powered site. Think you can do that?

Posted by: sat on December 1, 2003 04:45 PM

reading all that makes me hungry, and i’ve had dinner!

Posted by: Jaina on December 1, 2003 09:41 PM

I hope more is coming, finally I could get a shot at learning to cook something other than pasta. (no pressure.)

Posted by: Remi on December 2, 2003 09:22 PM

Hi Remi - many thanks for visiting! And yeah - I’m sure there will be plenty of opportunity for you to try cooking something new! :-)

Posted by: Jag on December 2, 2003 09:35 PM

Jaina: you could always have dinner again if you’re hungry!

Lisa: I presume you meant to say “weren’t” instead of “were” w.r.t. referring to dishes as Thai?

Sat: yeah I consider myself a “dabbler” with Photoshop - not really an expert - but still on a (long) learning curve. (The widegroup page was cool!) And you’ve reminded me to share the “music on my mind” endings again - thanks!

Posted by: Jag on December 2, 2003 09:59 PM

Another “chook” recipe…yummy…nice one, Jag. Lovely foto of Ms.79 as well.In Thai recipes, even the coriander root is added and blended with the curry paste. I used to cut the ends and throw it away! Now I don’t!! I just blend a whole bunch as it is and add it towards the end of cooking time for the fresh flavours.I love coriander and use it all the time in curries, bhajis and daals.

Posted by: Ritu on December 2, 2003 11:23 PM

I am back again to leave this website which has some very nice recipes,under the Search for fact sheets, log in, browze and ‘njoy ~ ( yeah, I watch it alot on TV!!)

Food Source-Asia by Neil Perry has some excellent recipes too especially Thai ones. The Thai pork curry sounds wonderful which I would subsitute with chicken or lamb.

Posted by: Ritu on December 2, 2003 11:56 PM

Hi Ritu - yes - we always chop ALL of the coriander too - from bottom of stem upwards.

Glad to see you back - hope you’re feeling better. And thanls for the link to Lifestyle’s recipes - will check them out soon!

Posted by: Jag on December 3, 2003 08:17 AM

curry was lovely - Thanks :-)

Posted by: James on December 3, 2003 10:39 PM

Glad you tried it out!

Posted by: Jag on December 4, 2003 12:29 PM

I made this 3 days ago and we are still groaning in ecstasy as we eat it. It is absolutely wonderful. I found this site after I had made mine and wish I had found it sooner. The recipe I think is the same but The pics are excellentand very helpful. I was uneasy with all the liquids to add. To do it differently I would have added the liquids more slowly and kept the consistency I wanted. As it was, like I said, a culinary delight.
Thanks very much for posting.

Posted by: Yvonne on July 21, 2004 08:05 PM

Hi Yvonne - many thanks for your feedback! Glad you enjoyed it too!

Posted by: Jag on July 22, 2004 01:49 PM

Curry was good. Tasted like similar dish served in FUSE restaurant near Borough Market. Though my husband perfers Punjabi style with tomatoes, potatoes and Singapore meat masala.

Posted by: Savinder on August 22, 2004 09:21 PM
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